How mainstream brands are celebrating 4/20

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As the marijuana holiday goes mainstream, marketers embrace it with promotions and stoner humor.

April 20 has been called many things: "the pot industry’s Black Friday," a "high holiday for marijuana users" and even "Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one joint-filled day."

For marketers, it’s a chance to be edgy without going over the edge, especially now that 4/20 has gone mainstream. Brands like Burger King, Pepsi, Carl’s Jr. and even General Mills-owned Totino’s Pizza Rolls have tweeted weed references in recent years, and why not? Seven states and Washington, DC, have legalized cannabis, and a 2016 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of American adults support pot legalization. Those are potential customers, so "if you’re in the selling business, how could you turn that down?" said Dr. Keith Humphreys, a Stanford University psychiatry professor who advises states on marijuana policy.

Joel Milton, CEO of Baker, a customer engagement platform for cannabis dispensaries and brands, agrees. "From city events, curated cannabis parties to the 420 games, it’s no secret people celebrate 420," he wrote in an email. "This year in particular, we’re seeing an influx of new brands getting involved. And what can be more mainstream than Lyft?"

For the first time, the ride-sharing company is handing out $42 worth of ride credits through a partnership with the Colorado Department of Transportation to incentivize users to order a car after toking up.

Lyft’s hardly the only brand capitalizing on 4/20. Read on to see how Ben & Jerry’s, Nike and more are hoping to get a contact high from being associated with the stoner holiday. 

Uber

Also in Colorado, Uber is partnering with the State Patrol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and dispensary Native Roots to offer a $4.20 discount on rides to and from downtown Denver today.


Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is no stranger to the 4/20 holiday with flavors like "Half Baked" and "Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies." In fact, marijuana culture is part of the company. "Jerry and Ben started the company in 1978, and they were definitely two hippies that were — enjoying life, if you will," Ben & Jerry’s spokeswoman Lindsay Bumps told The Washington Post.

Two years ago, Ben & Jerry’s delighted stoners everywhere with the creation of the Brr-ito on 4/20. Today, it’s introducing the Chill-aco, a waffle cone taco filled with ice cream, cookie crumbles, caramel and drizzled fudge. And the brand isn’t being subtle in its messaging, either, pointing out that this dessert is only available for a limited time, "so get yours before this taco-tastic concoction goes up in a puff of smoke!"


PETA

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is always good for a "dad joke" on 4/20. Last year, it tweeted a photo of a cow with the text, "Say no to pot…ROAST!"

This year, it’s re-airing an outtake of a video with Grammy-nominated artist D.R.A.M. that parodies his song "Broccoli." While D.R.A.M.’s original music video is NSFW, PETA’s version consists of the rapper offering his stoner friends some new greens that he got from "that white-haired lady down at the farmer’s market." No, it’s not weed. It’s straight-up broccoli, "a plant that is widely accessible and perfectly legal in all 50 states."


Lagunitas Brewing Company

Each year, the Lagunitas Brewing Company (partly owned by Heineken) pays homage to the originators of 4/20 with its limited edition Waldos beer. Named after the group of high school students who would meet at 4:20 p.m. to smoke weed in the 1970s, the triple IPA smells like marijuana and is "the dankest and hoppiest beer" the brand has ever brewed, according to its website.


Nike

Although Nike’s website doesn’t mention 4/20 by name, sneakerhead and cannabis bloggers are already saying the brand’s SB Dunks, which are being released today, were clearly inspired by the high life. The $100 Intergalactic sneakers go on sale at 10 a.m. today and go "where no SB Dunk has gone before."


Insomnia Cookies

The fresh-baked cookie chain is capitalizing on 4/20 munchies with its "biggest deal of the year." For $4.20, Insomnia customers can get six chocolate chunk cookies today. And, lucky for pot smokers, the bakery delivers until 3 a.m.  


Denny’s

Denny’s prepares itself for 4/20 each year, according to a recent tweet: "Ah, the 19th of April, when we train the staff in prank call diversion tactics & re-up as much pancake batter as we can get our hands on."

If last year is any indication, the brand will tweet more tongue-in-cheek messages throughout the day.


Concepts x Vans Old Skool

In honor of the OG toker Bob Marley, New England-based retailer Concepts drops a sneaker collaboration with Vans Old Skool today. The limited edition, three-shoe collection is inspired by Marley’s island home of Jamaica and is sold on a first come, first serve basis.


Dos Toros

The taco chain unveiled a secret code via Instagram Stories this morning, which guarantees 4/20 celebrants free chips and a surprise gift. It also posted a photo collage titled "The Dos Toros 4/20 Starter Pack," featuring holiday essentials like Axe body spray, Jarritos soda, a Dos Toros burrito and the "Planet Earth II" series.


iHeart Radio

The music company is tweeting as much as it’s toking this morning. At 4:20 a.m. exactly, it wished rapper Snoop Dogg a "Happy 4/20," and it’s since promoted "Weed Stream Radio" as the perfect holiday soundtrack.


Wyoming, MN Police

Smokers better watch out for the Wyoming, Minnesota Police today. They’ve set up puffer traps complete with munchies (Doritos, Cheetos and White Castle), Mountain Dew refreshments and video games (Grand Theft Auto and Battlefield Hardline) to catch 4/20 participants.